Your experience, skills and an ability to perform job should be the determining factors in employment decisions, not age, and a number of employers are reaping the benefits already, of having a diverse workforce consisting of various age groups. For those about to approach retirement age, many individuals want the opportunity to choose how and when they retire.
Age Legislation and Rights at Work
A new law on age discrimination came into force on 1 October 2006. The law states it is illegal to treat a person unfairly in employment or in vocational training because of their age unless they have a satisfactory reason. This is welcomed news, especially for older members of the workforce, as it will give you more rights and opportunities at work.
Employers won’t be allowed to enforce compulsory retirement ages under 65, unless they can justify the reasons why. If your employer has a compulsory retirement age limit, you will have the legal right to ask if you can work beyond that age and your employer must consider your request formally. Further details can be found on the ACAS website.
Planning Your Finances for Retirement
The new legislation will help you to plan with your employer when you retire if they are willing to allow you to work beyond the age of 65. It’s long been recognised that people are living longer and they experience a much longer period of retirement so for some, they may still want to keep earning and to put off drawing their pension until later. This might mean working part-time or considering a job sharing role, reducing the number of hours you work or taking a on a job which is less demanding.
If you decide to carry on working and to delay claiming your State Pension, you may be eligible to receive a higher State Pension or be given the option of a one-off taxable lump sum payment when you do eventually claim.
Benefits for Businesses
The UK population is ageing. Currently, there are around 20 million people aged 50 or above but this figure is set to rise by over a third by 2030.Therefore, there will be more ageing workers in the workforce and fewer younger ones to replace them. An older worker has a lifetime of transferable skills and personal qualities which can often be of great value to an employee. The older worker will is also able to pass on their skills and knowledge to younger colleagues who will benefit from their experience.
Older workers have often been subject to negative stereotyping. For example, it was often thought that older workers would take more time off work sick but research has shown that the opposite is the case. Another common assumption is that older people start taking things easy as they near normal retirement age. However, they often remain just as ambitious and keen to take on new challenges. They also tend to be more loyal to a company, have a professional approach and are no longer aspiring to scale the career ladder which results in less staff turnover and higher training costs where new employees have to be recruited and trained.
Sometimes, a person coming up to retirement age might wish to leave their own specific industry and try something new. If their skills are transferable, an employee can often find their new ‘career’ or job gives them a new lease of life and makes them even more committed to a company.
As people grow older their priorities change and they often want to do more than simply put their feet up, whether that’s a full-time job, voluntary work or a part-time position. For some, it’s needing to keep earning to protect them later in life whilst, for others, they still want to find something meaningful to do each day, as opposed to just sitting at home in retirement.
Jobcentre Plus can offer useful help in finding older members of the workforce employment. ACAS and the Department of Work & Pensions can also offer good advice on the new legislation changes and how that will impact upon those considering working beyond 65.